The new Force Awakens trailer isn't the only reason to look forward to December. (But time out, for real you guys, how cool is that shit?)
This week representatives from USA Hockey, the governing body of international ice hockey in The States, will be in St. Louis to get a final tour of the St. Louis Blues' and St. Louis Sports Commission's plan on hosting the 2018 Under-20 World Championships, better known as the World Juniors. The 2018 tournament will be held in the US, with St. Louis among the three finalists along with Buffalo and Pittsburgh. The winning city will be announced in early December.
The Blues, STL Sports Commission, and USA Hockey will hold a joint press conference on Thursday morning at Scottrade Center, which will include a presentation on the Heartland of Hockey marketing campaign which has been the Blues' focus so far this season. The campaign has been highlighting the recent boom in youth hockey and player development in St. Louis, which was once considered as non-traditional a hockey market as Phoenix or Dallas.
Should St. Louis be selected, it will be the biggest hockey event in this city since at least the 2007 Frozen Four (which to this day is the most attended Frozen Four in NCAA history), perhaps even since the 1970 Stanley Cup Finals...you know, depending on the Blues postseason fortunes the next couple of seasons.
Personally, after the Blues flopped out of the playoffs unceremoniously yet again last spring then proceeded to make no significant changes in the offseason aside from trading away the player for whom I named my cat, I wasn't sure anything the team could do would reignite my enthusiasm to the same degree. But this run at hosting the World Juniors, in my opinion the most fun annual sporting event on the planet, along with the Heartland of Hockey campaign which takes the emphasis off supporting a frustratingly underachieving team/front office and instead focuses on supporting St. Louis and local hockey in general, has given me a shot in the arm.
If you put a gun to my head and made me put money down on who I think the favorite bid to win would be, I'd bet on Pittsburgh. Buffalo just hosted the last time the US held the tournament, and although Brett Hull and Keith Tkachuk are USA Hockey legends, Mario is still Mario.
But if USA Hockey wants to showcase what can happen when you work on growing the game in non-traditional US markets, not to mention cultivate a heavily pro-American crowd for the traditional New Year's Eve showdown with Canada (which would absolutely not happen in Buffalo or even Pittsburgh), then the Gateway City is clearly the best choice!